We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Millions of displaced Colombians demand US respect human life, not money (3:06m video & script)

from RT (Russia Today). People in the US often must go to foreign sources in order to find information about some of the most egregious actions pursued abroad by their government and corporations.
US corporations are under fire for aiding the creation of world's second largest displaced population. Activists claim millions of Colombians have been driven from their homes.
In light of the issue, hundreds of protestors have gathered at Washington DC’s Capitol Hill. People brought pictures of those who have suffered as a result of the activities of major US companies in Colombia's indigenous territories, which are rich in natural resources. Millions have not only been displaced, but also are either missing, tortured or have been killed.

Guest Workers Inc.: Fraud and Human Trafficking

from Voltaire. The article examines a temporary program enacted under George Bush in 2004 that is being favored by powerful corporate interests as a method of "immigration reform".
While the guest worker program in the United States has been praised and recommended for expansion by President Bush, and is likely to be considered by Congress as a template for future immigration reform, human rights advocates warn that the system seriously victimizes immigrant workers. Workers, labor organizers, lawyers, and policy makers say that the program, designed to open up the legal labor market and provide a piece of the American dream to immigrants, has instead locked thousands into a modern-day form of indentured servitude. Congressman Charles Rangel has called the guest worker program “the closest thing I’ve ever seen to slavery.

Common Security Clubs offer the jobless a lifeline

from the LA Times. The article reports on a clubs where people are getting together to help each other.
The clubs are citizen action groups designed to bring the unemployed — and the anxiously employed — together to help each other. Each club consists of 15 to 20 members, drawn from churches, union halls, environmental groups or neighborhoods.

Hopelessness in the Workplace

from Counterpunch. The article presents hard evidence that reveals a dramatic decline in worker satisfaction among people in 60 countries over the past 23 years.
The Conference Board’s study indicated that the drop-off wasn’t tied primarily to worries over job security, as critical as that concern is.  Rather, the responses were quite specific.  Among the complaints:  on-the-job pressure, longer hours, bad bosses, workplace intimidation, arbitrary decision-making and evaluations, and a sense of general hopelessness.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Miners and families denounce Massey and government inspectors for West Virginia mine disaster

from World Socialist Web Site. Miners tell their story of the mine disaster that you likely didn't hear from your boob tube.
If anyone complained about safety, Stewart went on, “we’d be marked men and the management would look for ways to fire us. Maybe not that day, or that week, but somewhere down the line, we’d disappear. We’d seen it happen and I told my wife, I felt like I was working for the Gestapo at times.”

Leading the world's green industrial revolution

from the Denver Post. 
A gaping gulf exists today between America's economic collapse, our melting globe, and the lackluster response of top leaders in the U.S. wind, solar and geothermal industries. You wouldn't know it, but these three industries, along with the energy efficiency sector, hold the key to ushering in a green industrial revolution for America, and the world.
I believe that the article suggests what I believe to be a fact--that the US ruling class is committed to the fossil fuel industry, and to a lesser extent to nuclear energy.

Thinking the Unthinkable in the Aftermath of Kandahar

by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould from Boiling Frogs.
The upcoming campaign for the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar will be the crucial test for the United States’ military and the Obama administration’s AfPak strategy. It will clearly be an epic military battle and a test of the intellectual movement for counterinsurgency within the military known as COIN. But, like the battle for Marja in February, will the battle for Kandahar be more about the “perceptions” of American victory than about real success?
And managing perceptions is extremely important in any fake democracy. 

These journalists see a growing disaffection among NATO members as well as among the people in the US to continue this war. Hence the Empire's ruling class has some real dilemmas to confront.

Time out

Wall Street's War

by Matt Taibbi from Rolling Stone. This outstanding investigative reporter has been hanging around the US Congress to find out how it actually functions as it tries to pass a financial reform bill. Read all about it!
It's early May in Washington, and something very weird is in the air. As Chris Dodd, Harry Reid and the rest of the compulsive dealmakers in the Senate barrel toward the finish line of the Restoring American Financial Stability Act – the massive, year-in-the-making effort to clean up the Wall Street crime swamp – word starts to spread on Capitol Hill that somebody forgot to kill the important reforms in the bill. As of the first week in May, the legislation still contains aggressive measures that could cost once-indomitable behemoths like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase tens of billions of dollars. Somehow, the bill has escaped the usual Senate-whorehouse orgy of mutual back-scratching, fine-print compromises and freeway-wide loopholes that screw any chance of meaningful change.
Read the rest to find out how the ruling elite manages your "democracy" so that it works for them while it continues the appearance that it works for you. This is a must-read for anyone who is not convinced that the system works to serve the elites and not ordinary people.
Otherwise, for those of you who are aware that what we have in the US is a fake democracy, you might be interested in reading only the following summary.
On the plus side, the bill will rein in some forms of predatory lending, and contains a historic decision to audit the Fed. But the larger, more important stuff – breaking up banks that grow Too Big to Fail, requiring financial giants to pay upfront for their own bailouts, forcing the derivatives market into the light of day – probably won't happen in any meaningful way. The Senate is designed to function as a kind of ongoing negotiation between public sentiment and large financial interests, an endless tug of war in which senators maneuver to strike a delicate mathematical balance between votes and access to campaign cash. The problem is that sometimes, when things get really broken, the very concept of a middle ground between real people and corrupt special interests becomes a grotesque fallacy. In times like this, we need our politicians not to bridge a gap but to choose sides and fight. In this historic battle over finance reform, when we had a once-in-a-generation chance to halt the worst abuses on Wall Street, many senators made the right choice. In the end, however, the ones who mattered most picked wrong – and a war that once looked winnable will continue to drag on for years, creating more havoc and destroying more lives before it is over.

Resilient gardening - Part I

by Christine Patton from her blog, Peak Oil Hausfrau.
At the same time that gardening is becoming more difficult due to factors such as climate change, declining resources, colony collapse disorder, etc., it also becomes even more necessary as we begin to rely on our food gardens for financial and economic reasons. Because of that transformation from hobby to necessity, I've become very interested in incorporating resilience into gardening.

Kyrgyzstan’s "Rose Revolution": Washington, Moscow, Beijing and the Geopolitics of Central Asia--Part 2

by F. William Engdahl from Global Research. The author is an expert on the Great Game that governing classes like to play on the world stage. Clearly the most important area of the world where this game is being played is in Eurasia. That is why the Empire has so much invested there in terms of military and political forces. Engdahl supplies the details of this game.

As you read the article, notice how all the players in this game are strategizing to gain control of the regions mineral and energy resources. 

What is especially important for us ordinary people to understand from all this is that we have reached a point in human history where such games can no longer be tolerated. Human ingenuity has enabled a small section of the human population to play these games at the expense of the rest of us. We fight and die in the wars that they create. We also pay with our jobs, pensions, future opportunities of our children when their games go wrong. They don't pay, or at least, not very much--more in the nature of pocket change that they gamble with. 

Likewise the environment in which we exist has become increasing threatened by their rapacious exploitation of earth's resources to the point where it appears likely that it will be unable to continue to support human and other life forms if the damage continues. As I and many others see it, there is really no alternative for us than to begin to replace this domineering rule by elites with rule by us--we, the people, of the earth.

If you take the long view of human history, this would not really be such a startling change. The feudal and industrial phases where elites have ruled constitute only a very small period in this long history--less than 2% for the history of most of humanity. For most of human history humans governed their affairs in a highly participatory manner with the welfare of all being very important for survival. We must return to this kind of arrangement. 

Of course, we can't exactly duplicate earlier participatory arrangements because we live in a very different world. But we must, if we are to survive, re-design our societies to eliminate rule by minorities who exploit the rest of us and the earth to serve their addictions to power and wealth.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Designing the Future

from Resurgence. 
...this is where you come in. As planetary citizens we can all now go beyond ‘business as usual’, by pooling our collective dreams and ideas and imagining a new kind of future. We can build it inside the existing system, using the worldwide web as the operating system, so that when the time comes for a new, truly democratic, open-source system of governance, there will be a blue-print ready and waiting.

Regional, Not Local, Sourcing May be the Solution to Our Broken Food System

from Politics of the Plate. 
It has all but become an article of faith that sourcing food locally is the most sustainable alternative to our current global food production system. But there is a growing body of evidence that local may only be part of the answer.

Holding Banks Responsible By Community Organizing

from New America Media.
“Our idea is that the congregations and large institutions -- unions, schools, universities, pension funds, local and state governments — should start moving their deposits and investments out of banks that are not working to keep families in their homes.”

Toronto Police Get 'Sound Cannons' for G20

from the Toronto Star. The New World Order will make sure that protesters (we, the people) will not interfere with their G20 conference. They use "new-speak" to call this weapon, which was first used last year in Pittsburgh, "a communication tool". 

Iran: Obama's other oil spill

by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times Online.
With its eye on full spectrum dominance, control of Eurasia and regime change in Iran, the Obama administration had lost control of the Iranian nuclear dossier, and Brazil and Turkey filled the void by starting down the diplomatic track. The real "international community" has interpreted the sequel for what it is - Washington undermining the emergence of independent, non-US-centric global diplomacy, pre-emptively striking both Brazil and Turkey, these annoying "threats" to the major power platinum club.  

First Person Observation of Oil Leak Impact

from Naked Capitalism. From an employee of a New Orleans community clinic, some inconvenient truths about how local people are experiencing the disaster in the Gulf.

Time out

US Space Weapon Now Circling the Globe

from Toward Freedom.
The US space weapon X-37 is now circling the globe in relative secrecy....This new weapon poses threats to global peace and risks sparking an arms race in space.
I wonder how many billions have been spent on this system. 

The military-industrial complex marches on as many people hunker down, growing their own food, "transitioning", watching the the Arctic ice cap melt and ocean life forms dieing due to acidification, watching the Gulf of Mexico fill up with oil, wondering about unusual local weather patterns, watching their sons and daughter and brothers and sister go off to fight the Empire's wars because higher education is too expensive and there aren't any job prospects. 

Meanwhile, enlightened academics write in liberal media how all these problems are due to "industrial civilization", the implication being that the only solution is to return to a pre-industrial civilization in order to survive. 

Now, I'm sure that this strategy is comforting to the profit addicted ruling class. While the riff-raff are busy eking out a pre-industrial existence, they can hoard whatever is left of the earth's resources, maintain their lavish lifestyles, and continue their dominion over all living things.

An Interview with Peter North, author of ‘Local Money: how to make it happen in your community’

by Rob Hopkins from Transition Culture. The author interviews North about his new book and discusses the problems and possibilities of local currency arrangements.
...I’ve become very aware...that it can be very easy to set up a local currency scheme, but harder to keep it going when the initial enthusiasm wears off. The fact is that at the moment we live in a very globalised world where next to nothing that we use everyday is produced locally. Its something that we need to change, but that won’t happen overnight. Making too many claims too quickly about what you can do with a local currency can be a problem if you find that local businesses actually don’t sell anything produced locally, so they can’t spend on the local currency they take in. And endlessly recirculating things made in China between ourselves does not make us very resilient.

Ancient records confirm Arctic warming due to man

from Environmental Research Web. 
As the geological record shows, the Arctic has occasionally been ice-free in the past. However, the current speed of on-going change is exceptional. "In the past, one went from heavier ice to milder, or ice-free, conditions over the span of thousands of years," said Serreze. "Now we are talking about doing it in 100 years, or less.

Arctic sea ice shrinks faster than 2007

from Climate Progress. 
While the anti-science crowd scours the globe desperately looking for any indication of their imaginary cooling, reality has intruded again.

Polluted by profit: Johann Hari on the real Climategate

from The Independent. 
US environmental groups used to be funded largely by their members and wealthy individual supporters. They had only one goal: to prevent environmental destruction. Their funds were small, but they played a crucial role in saving vast tracts of wilderness and in pushing into law strict rules forbidding air and water pollution. But Jay Hair – the president of the National Wildlife Federation from 1981 to 1995 – was dissatisfied. He identified a huge new source of revenue: the worst polluters.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

U.S. Is Said to Expand Secret Actions in Mideast

from The NY Times. The article reports on the latest revelation of secret operations authorizing the US military to carry out. As such, it illustrates once again how any pretense of foreign, or domestic, policies that are not in conformance with the US Constitution are simply made secret by executive order of the President. In this case, a Presidential order was not even mentioned. Instead it has been authorized by Gen. Petaeus. Of course, this could not have happened without Obama administration approval.
...the directive was signed in September and would send “small teams of American troops” to “both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces.” More importantly, “the order also permits reconnaissance that could pave the way for possible military strikes in Iran if tensions over its nuclear ambitions escalate.”

Finance Bill: a few good measures but mostly show (2 videos 9:03m & 7:10m)

from The Real News Network. Transcripts of interviews are also included. 

This appears to be an excellent and concise assessment of the financial reform bill that is working its way through the US Congress that has been much ballyhooed in mainstream media.

Part II is here
And what is our massive reform in response to what the FBI warned was an epidemic of fraud, warned in 2004? Essentially nothing to deal with any of the underlying causes, nothing to deal with the fraud, nothing to deal with the executive compensation, next to nothing to do with the professional compensation, nothing to do with the accounting abuses, no effective steps against the systemically dangerous institutions or the financial derivatives.

Complete List of Differences Between Obama and Bush

from Washington's Blog. Find all the differences in this list--if you can! Today's offering of black humor.

Destroying Public Education in America

from Dissident Voice. 
Established in 1635, the first Massachusetts school began a 375 year tradition, today being incrementally destroyed to commodity education, end government’s responsibility for it, make it another business profit center, benefit the well-off, revive a separate and unequal nation, consign underprivileged kids to low-wage, no benefit service jobs with no future so why educate them, thus putting the American dream out of reach for millions. 
Also see this entitled, Obama continues assault on teachers, from the World Socialist Web Site.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Biggest Boycotter of them All?

from The Only Democracy, a project of Jewish Voice for Peace. (This blog questions the very notion of Israel as “the only democracy” in the Middle East, and puts a spotlight on the intensifying struggle for human rights largely ignored by the mainstream media.) Note: "BDS" in the article refers to Boycott Divestment and Sanctions.


Time out

U.S. oil drilling regulator ignored experts' red flags on environmental risks

from The Washington Post. See how regulators function even when there are regulatory laws in place. They still act according to the dictates of the profit seeking capitalist ruling class. Once again, laws under any ruling class system are for ordinary people. The ruling class make the laws, and simply ignore them and do as they wish when it is in their interest to do so.

Cousteau Jr.: 'This Is a Nightmare... a Nightmare' (6:41m video)

from ABC News (Amercian, not Australian, Broadcasting Co.) Philippe Cousteau Jr. and Sam Champion take hazmat dive into Gulf's oily waters and provide graphic coverage of the oil spill and the use of chemical dispersants. Notice how the mega-media corporation tries at the end to soften the negative reports about BP's use of chemical dispersants. 

On Growth and Democracy

by Joe Costello from his blog, Archein. The author, using Zoellich as an example, illustrates how key figures in the ruling class can only envision more growth as a way out of the current economic collapse. That is because the system of capitalism dictates growth. The author rather timidly expresses the idea that no growth is imperative and that what is needed is the "reformation" of our industrial economy. 

Once again, you witness the aversion to naming the system--capitalism, and likewise, the aversion to fundamentally changing the system. In spite of these defects, the article does illustrate that more and more people are becoming aware of the urgency for systemic changes. I also like that he admits that under the present system ordinary citizens have become powerless. But that only makes it imperative that ordinary citizens change the system to one that they are in charge of and serves their needs.

The privacy Machiavellis

from SF Gate. 

Companies like Google and Facebook are increasing compromising their privacy concerns in favor of selling your data to marketing companies. You mistakenly thought that they were providing data information to you and promoting social connections for you--you know, like some kind of public service. That, of course, is the way they started to promote themselves. But both companies are private enterprises, and as such, profit concerns require a different focus. That accounts for this evolution into selling your private information to big corporations.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What is it really all about?

from Billy Blog. 
In a capitalist society, where most of us have to work to make a material living, these economic threats impinge on our right to work. The neo-liberals deliberately undermine the right to work of millions and force them into a state of welfare dependence and then start hacking into the welfare system to deny them the pittance that that system delivers.

Do they want people to starve? What is this really all about?

Book bares Israeli nuclear arms deals with apartheid regime

by Bill Van Auken from World Socialist Web Site. 
Israel negotiated with South Africa for the sale of nuclear-armed missiles to the apartheid regime in the 1970s, according to a book published today. The revelation has surfaced at an inconvenient time for Washington as it campaigns for increased sanctions against Iran over Tehran’s own nuclear program.
 Equally astonishing is that the book "was written by Sasha Polakow-Suransky, the senior editor at Foreign Affairs, a publication oriented to the American foreign policy establishment."

City dwellers use their green thumbs to strengthen neighborhood bonds in community gardens

from Food Freedom. 

Building local community is a necessary step toward localization of polity and economy that can save us from the ravages (climate change, depletion of energy, degradation of the environment, etc) of globalized capitalism.
The project had support from City Commissioner Patty Sheehan, who heard from residents wanting to set up a community garden. Most live in rental and condominium properties without access to yards.

“These gardens have been so popular, we have been trying ways to make it happen,” said Sheehan, who provided $2,000 from her discretionary budget for the Festival Park and Colonialtown gardens. “For me it’s an educational tool. It’s a way to get people active, and it’s a way to build community …. It’s just nothing but positive.”

Guardians of Human Wrongs

from War is a Crime. This is a bit of a rant, but a good one. 
Certainly, we can examine the obvious—that our actions in the voting booths do not move the world in a positive direction for anyone but the wealthy and powerful. Government leadership acts on behalf of government leadership and large corporations whose donations ensure the continuation of the status quo. In other words, they, the powerful, win, and we, the powerless, lose.

Why Sociopaths Win & Why, No, You Don’t Want to Be One of Them

by Kathy McMahon from her blog, Peak Oil Blues. 

This is a fairly lengthy essay on the characteristics of sociopaths and I think it contains a lot truths. However, I think because she deals as a therapist with individuals, her essay seems to suggest that the ills of our society are primarily caused by the sociopaths among us.

My view is that the system, the capitalist system, by its very nature--its obsession with individual pursuit of wealth and a system designed to favor those with wealth--is sociopathic. Hence it attracts those people among us who are morally weak and succeeds in making most of them into real social pariahs. So, once again to paraphrase Bill Clinton, "it's the social-economic system, stupid!" 

(A note on word usage: "sociopathy" and "psychopathy" are often equivalent terms. The former mostly used in the US, while the latter in English speaking countries outside the US. I'm not sure, but I think the word sociopathy was created sometime in the 1960s by one of the professional associations in the US to distinguish abnormal behavior that is due to socialization from such behavior caused by brain dysfunctions. I think that such a distinction is useful.) 

Time out

Net Neutrality: Is The FCC Ready To Take On The Big Dogs?

from The Public Record. 
The FCC has announced a National Broadband Plan...the intent is making sure everyone has access to high bandwidth at affordable prices....

...all the dark and powerful corporate forces of the internet will have their lobbyists out in full force wining and dining and bribing all of our democratically elected representatives to make sure legislation is introduced that will thwart this Un-American plan of the FCC that will give equality and freedom of choice to us consumers.

The article reports on the current efforts of the big corporations providing internet access to control access via band width restrictions in the pursuit of more profits. I'm sure, also, that they would not be shy about restricting access to bloggers that were critical of their practices. 

This is a very important freedom of information issue that must not be corrupted by these corporations. Given the recent Supreme Court decision and relying on the FCC to promote equal public access does not bode well, according to the author's view, for the public interest.

Gaza aid flotilla to set sail for confrontation with Israel

from the Guardian. 
"We're trying to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip and tell the world that Israel has no right to starve 1.5 million Palestinians," said Greta Berlin, of the Free Gaza Movement, another organiser of the flotilla. "We are bringing in vitally needed supplies so the people of Gaza can rebuild their infrastructure."

Israel has imposed an economic blockade on Gaza since the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas seized control almost three years ago. Nearly all exports and imports are banned and only a limited supply of food and medical aid is allowed in.

Suicides expose stresses of China factory life

from The Globe and Mail (Canada). 

Learn more about the cheap labor that China supplies to US corporations resulting in cheap prices for consumers, but on the other hand, big profits for multi-national corporations, severe trade imbalances that require China to buy US dollars to keep the process going, which in turn, funds US wars in Asia and the Middle East and military bases everywhere in the world, unemployment in the US, de-skilling of large parts of the US workforce, housing foreclosures, and driving exploited Chinese workers to suicide. 

Ain't capitalism wonderful?!

Monday, May 24, 2010

What Will the Bilderbergers Decide on Iran?

by Andre Fromine from Oriental Review. The blogger is based in Russia and I presume is Russian. The Russians have long experience with Soviet governments that lied to them. They pretty much assumed that everything that their government reported was a lie. Unfortunately, for the Soviet ruling cliques, they did not have benefit of US public relations expertise to hide their lies. 

That, I think, explains why the author is so much more astute as to where real power lies. His take on world events is so much more sophisticated than what one usually finds on websites. Having said that, I don't necessarily agree with everything he has written in this article. But I recommend that you read it to expose yourself to a political analyst who understands how power works. (Note: His English is a bit fractured in places.) 

Notice that he doesn't mention either Republicans or Democrats. He focuses attention on Bilderbergers and the Trilateral Commission.

BP Resists EPA’s Order to Use Less Toxic Dispersant

from Pro Publica.
We’ve reached out to the EPA to ask what the agency will do about BP’s refusal to comply with its directive. Where the EPA goes from here will give a window into how much authority the federal government has—and is willing to exercise—in its oversight of the cleanup, an issue on which the Obama administration continues to receive criticism.

The absence of debate over war

by Glenn Greenwald from Salon. 
...one of the most consequential aspects of the Obama presidency thus far:  the conversion of numerous Bush/Cheney policies from what they once were (controversial, divisive, right-wing extremism) into what they have become (uncontroversial bipartisan consensus).  One sees this dynamic most clearly in the Terrorism/civil-liberties realm, but it is quite glaring in the realm of war as well.
This is why I have previously argued that Obama is the perfect presidential puppet for the US ruling class. He masquerades as an outsider (an African-American), a change agent, a nice, eloquent guy who always purports to do the right thing, but somehow things never change. Well, he can't help it--it's the Republicans, corporations, the Tea Partyers, etc. (sarcasm)

This is why the ruling class used Democratic Clinton to pull the globalization rug over our eyes. Remember how free trade was a win-win for everybody? And it is why they used "war on poverty" and "guns and butter" Lyndon Johnson to expand the war in Indochina. It is why they used joke-cracking, smooth talking, former GE salesman and actor Ronald Reagan to "get the government off our backs" (remove all restraints and regulations on corporations).

Jesus Christ, people--wake up!

US Senate rubber-stamps the dictatorship of the big banks

by Patrick Martin from World Socialist Web Site. 
There is a striking and politically illuminating contrast between the market reaction and the populist phrases mouthed by Democratic politicians in Washington. Harry Reid, the Democrat majority leader in the Senate, boasted, “When this bill becomes law, the joyride on Wall Street will come to a screeching halt.”

The Greeks Get It

by Chris Hedges from TruthDig. 
Here’s to the Greeks. They know what to do when corporations pillage and loot their country. They know what to do when Goldman Sachs and international bankers collude with their power elite to falsify economic data and then make billions betting that the Greek economy will collapse. They know what to do when they are told their pensions, benefits and jobs have to be cut to pay corporate banks, which screwed them in the first place. Call a general strike. Riot. Shut down the city centers. Toss the bastards out. Do not be afraid of the language of class warfare—the rich versus the poor, the oligarchs versus the citizens, the capitalists versus the proletariat. The Greeks, unlike most of us, get it.  
Compare the Greeks activism with the response of many Americans who are prime examples of extreme individualism that American society produces in such great numbers.

The Texas Textbook Massacre

by Rosemarie Jackowski from Dissident Voice. She reviews the education that most Americans have been subject to during the past 60 years. Is it any wonder why most are so ill-informed, passive, or easily manipulated?

Time out

The White House, Big Oil, and the "American Power Act"

from The Economic Populist. Here the blogger argues that it is the oil industry that is driving policy, whereas Washington's Blog at my next post looked at a wider phenomenon--the military-industrial complex. I think they are both correct, but one must look still deeper at the system that drives the whole show if any real change is to occur.

The Big Picture: Why Is It So Hard to Stop the Oil Gusher, and Why Was Such Extreme Deepwater Drilling Allowed in the First Place?

from Washington's Blog. Excellent broader perspective on the gulf disaster. Guess what? It's the military-industrial complex that Ike (Eisenhower) warned us about--and we didn't listen.
...existing national policy is to do whatever is necessary - drilling deep under the Gulf and launching our military abroad - to secure oil. Until we change our national security and energy policies, future mishaps - environmental, military and economic - may frequently occur.
How is it possible to change "policies" when they are based on the profit interests of a ruling class? To paraphrase one of our great past servants of the ruling class, it's the social-economic system, stupid!

Rep Alan Grayson Introduces the War Is Making You Poor Act (5:26m video)

from YouTube. I don't know anything about Alan Grayson, but he speaks the language that most Americans can believe in--their tax dollars. Forget about war crimes, imperialism, creating terrorists (people who fight back when they are terrorized), etc.

Despite Moratorium, Drilling Projects Move Ahead

from the NY Times. More "change you can believe in".
 “It seems as if permits were too often issued based on little more than assurances of safety from the oil companies,” Mr. Obama said. “That cannot and will not happen anymore.”

“We’re also closing the loophole that has allowed some oil companies to bypass some critical environmental reviews,” he added in reference to the environmental waivers.

But records indicated that regulators continued granting the environmental waivers and permits for types of work like that occurring on the Deepwater Horizon.

Environmentalists’ $100,000 Bail for Civil Disobedience

from Green is the New Red. This is what happens when a capitalist ruling class of a "democratic" nation feels that their profits are threatened by people exercising constitutional rights. Rights to profit trump civil rights every time.
This type of disproportionate response to non-violent activism isn’t an isolated instance. For example, when activists were arrested in their non-violent campaign against the I-69 NAFTA superhighway, the government argued for a high bond by saying that one of the defendants, Hugh Farrell, “advocated literature and materials which advocate anarchy.”

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Where should we be putting our mitigation priorities?

by Gail Tverberg from The Oil Drum. She finds three strategies for coping with the descent of energy availability and assesses the effectiveness of each. At this website I often find the non-technical articles and the following comments very stimulating. The people who participate on this site are mostly highly trained people in the sciences and technology. One might argue that they have a "trained incapacity" to look at issues from a social/political point of view. Hence they rarely mention any social and political changes that might be useful to prevent problems posed by peak oil and climate change. Nevertheless I find this article of considerable interest.

Class in America

from TPM Cafe. The article starts off with a critical examination of unemployment statistics and ends up with a very good analysis of the class structure of the US and how the current economic collapse is affecting people according to class.

The Insidious Bureaucracy in Venezuela: Biggest Barrier to Social Change

from Venezuela Analysis. 

It is very encouraging to read articles like this from this source which has too often in the past been a bit uncritical in its coverage of the ongoing Bolivarian Revolution. It is also encouraging to know that many Venezuelans are cognizant of the problem.

I also recommend reading the comment by Justina following the article.

Latin America’s New Middle Class Rulers: Stabilization, Growth and Inequality

by James Petras from Global Research. The article provides an excellent overview of the last 20 years of the economic and political events in South America. 

I only wish that he had spent more time on the events in Venezuela. For me, it is clear that the pace of radical changes in that country is being retarded by the same middle class bureaucracies that are in control in the other countries of South America. (Read the article I posted following his.)

Because many South American countries are rich in resources, they have been induced to take advantage of the capitalist markets driven largely by the resource demands of China and India. It is hard to fault them for that, but one should not be seduced by revolutionary or pro-indigenous rhetoric. Likewise it is obvious that the SA governments have been greatly influenced by the recent success of government supervised capitalism that exists in China and well as the economic havoc caused by unrestrained neo-liberalism that existed during the last 20 years. (For a contrasting view from South America, read this.)

This article, and others like it, is essential reading and study by everyone who sees the necessity for a change to social arrangements that are just and environmentally sustainable. If you do not understand how capitalist ruling classes are able to maneuver around the inevitable social conflicts that their system creates, your hard fought efforts for change will be in vain. That has been the story of all those who have come before you and worked for change . However, their efforts will not have been in vain if you understand their failures and learn from their mistakes.

As I see it, time is running out for most of the human race. Many knowledgeable people are making the argument that transitioning to other energy resources will require creating a costly new infrastructure that we may not be able to afford (under the existing capitalist system).

The capitalist system with its addiction to the private accumulation of wealth is driving us to our destruction brought on by violent climate changes, environmental degradation, and energy exhaustion. If this system is allowed to continue, the most optimistic scenario is that most of us will be faced with apocalyptic upheavals ending with only a tiny population barely surviving amidst the ruins of civilization and the environment.

We, as activists and concerned citizens, must stop being manipulated by ruling elites that talk a good story of hope, jobs, prosperity, etc. and look at only what they actually do. At the same time, we must stop supporting any kind of rule by elites, or any social arrangements that provide one segment of society with substantial advantages over the rest. For the existing societies today, that means that socially produced wealth can no longer be owned or controlled by private individuals. Our task is to create a true democracy--that means a direct democracy with inter-related localized economies. See the alternatives presented at the top right on this blog.

Free speech vs the free market

from Green Left (Australia). From Australia we get this report on the creative ways that the managers of their capitalist society limit free speech. Compare the methods used there with those we face in the US. 

In the US it's clear that free speech is only permitted to the extent that few people hear it; otherwise it is severely limited when it attacks the governing system and ruling class policies. We have been provided with numerous spectacles and TV entertainment that have been very successful in distracting people from any serious examination of the issues facing our society, while mainstream media coverage of the news succeeds in confusing the issues as well as dis-informing most us.